Go to Contents Go to Navigation

S. Korea needs tactical approach toward China: experts

All News 17:40 January 28, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea needs to use both pressure and persuasion in diplomacy toward China to achieve its aim of denuclearizing North Korea, experts here said Thursday.

As the U.N. Security Council prepares to adopt a new resolution punishing the North for its fourth nuclear test, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday to back stronger and more comprehensive sanctions against Pyongyang.

The Chinese minister rejected the call, saying sanctions shouldn't be the objective.

Despite its huge influence over Pyongyang, China has been reluctant to push the North too hard out of concerns for its own security interests, including the prospects of an influx of North Korean refugees or a U.S.-allied, unified Korea at its borders.

South Korean pundits expressed no surprise at the outcome but urged Seoul to employ different strategies to encourage China's cooperation over the North Korean nuclear issue.

"In the areas where there are differences, it is up to South Korea to be a mediator as a country directly involved in the issue," said Kim Han-kwon, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

President Park Geun-hye's recent proposal for five-party nuclear talks excluding the North could be the starting point, he said, noting that this could put pressure on the North to come forward to the negotiating table.

While the U.S. has welcomed the proposal, China and Russia have opposed it on the basis that it could antagonize the North. The multilateral format would also involve Japan.

Park Byeong-gwang, head of Northeast Asian research at the Institute for National Security Strategy, offered a dual strategy of persuasion and pressure toward China.

"The players of this game are the U.S. and China, not South Korea and China," he said, apparently referring to the fact that the former two are veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, while South Korea is not.

"South Korea actually has no choice but to join hands with the U.S. in pulling in China," Park said.

In pressuring China, however, South Korea should be careful not to upset it, stressing that the root cause is North Korea's growing threat, he added.

Park Ihn-hwi, an international relations professor at Ewha Womans University, echoed the view.

"Demanding an immediate answer from China could ruin the South Korea-China ties we worked hard to build in recent years," he said. "This is an important test of whether South Korea-China relations are really strong, whether we've really brought China over to our side, and we mustn't be the ones to spoil that test."

The professor suggested a strategy where South Korea and the U.S. lead the way in sanctions against Pyongyang as China keeps its distance.


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!